Why is Rome known as the « eternal city »? An itinerary to find out

Rome ville éternelle : de la Rome antique à la Rome contemporaine

Discover the treasures of Rome, the eternal city: a captivating itinerary through the history, culture and emblematic architecture of the Italian capital.

Do you dream of discovering a city as rich in history, culture and architecture? Then Rome is the place for you! Nicknamed the « eternal city », Rome has stood the test of time, retaining its charm and mysterious aura.

Our article takes you on a journey of discovery of this fascinating city, with a sightseeing itinerary that will help you understand what makes Rome such an eternal city. Follow us for an unforgettable experience!

The origins of Rome

Le Colisée de Rome en été

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Viacheslav Lopatin

To know the origins of Rome is to plunge into the history of one of the world’s greatest empires. The city of Rome, founded in 753 BC, was the heart of Roman civilization for centuries, influencing the politics, religion, art and architecture of the Roman Empire. To immerse yourself in this era, visit the main ancient sites such as the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Mount Palatine.

Le Colisée

The Colosseum, symbol of the power of the Roman Empire, is one of Rome’s most visited sites. You can still admire the spectacular architecture of this gigantic edifice, which could accommodate up to 50,000 people for gladiator fights and hunting shows. Imagine the cheering crowds at events held here! Impressive, isn’t it?

The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum, which was the political and religious center of ancient Rome, is also an archaeological site featuring numerous ancient buildings such as the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine, the Temple of Saturn and the Curia Julia. A stroll through the Roman Forum will allow you to relive key moments in Rome’s history, such as the assassination of Julius Caesar and the rise to power of Augustus.

Mount Palatine

Mount Palatine, meanwhile, was the residence of the Roman emperors and one of Rome’s seven hills. Here you can visit the remains of imperial palaces, gardens and temples, as well as enjoy breathtaking views over the city of Rome. As you explore the Palatine, you’ll have the impression of stepping back in time to discover the daily life of the Roman emperors and their court.

Christian Rome

La Basilique Saint-Pierre à Rome, symbole de la Rome chrétienne

Shutterstock – Mistervlad

Discover Christian Rome by visiting its main monuments. Rome became the center of the Catholic religion in the 4th century after the collapse of the Roman Empire. The emblematic religious buildings of this era are located in the Vatican: St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Catacombs of Rome. Where to go?

Saint Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica is a must-see when visiting Rome. Located in St. Peter’s Square, it is considered one of the world’s greatest religious buildings. Other highlights include the famous statue of St. Peter and the Sistine Chapel, famous for its frescoes by Michelangelo.

The Sistine Chapel

One of the jewels of Christian Rome is the Sistine Chapel, located in the Vatican Museums. This chapel is home to many famous frescoes, including Michelangelo’s famous ceiling. Be warned, queues for this visit are very long, so plan ahead!

The catacombs

When visiting Rome, you can also explore the city’ s catacombs, witnesses to the city’s history. These underground tunnels were used as cemeteries under the Roman Empire and are now open to visitors. There are over sixty of them to choose from, and while there’s plenty to choose from, we also recommend booking your tickets in advance to make the most of the experience.

The Renaissance in Rome

La place Navone à Rome, symbole de la Renaissance

Shutterstock – Nicola Forenza

During your visit to Rome, discover the Renaissance period that left its mark on the city. It was a time of renewal and reinvention in many fields, including art, architecture and science. Rome became an important center at this time in history, attracting artists and intellectuals from all over Europe! Explore some of the most emblematic sites of this era, such as Piazza Navona, the Trevi Fountain and Villa Borghese.

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona is one of Rome’s most emblematic Renaissance landmarks. It was built in the 15th century on the site of an ancient Roman stadium. The square is famous for its three Baroque fountains, including the Fountain of the Four Rivers, a spectacular work created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. What’s more, numerous cafés and restaurants line the piazza, where you can relax and enjoy the lively atmosphere!

Trevi Fountain

Another Renaissance landmark is the Trevi Fountain, designed by architect Nicola Salvi in the 18th century. Famous for its grandiose sculptures and architectural beauty, it’s a real must-see in the Eternal City. According to tradition, if you throw a coin into the fountain with your back turned, you’re guaranteed to return to Rome one day. If you’re visiting Rome as a couple, the fountain is also a very romantic (but also very crowded) spot!

Villa Borghese

Finally, the Villa Borghese is a spectacular museum housing an exceptional collection of art from Rome’s Renaissance period. Here you can admire works by Raphael, Caravaggio and Bernini, among others. What we love is that the villa itself is a magnificent example of Renaissance architecture, with its picturesque gardens and elegant fountains. This tour will allow you to discover Rome’s Renaissance heritage and immerse yourself in the history of this eternal city.

Modern Rome

Monument Victor Emmanuel II à Rome

Shutterstock – Viacheslav Lopatin

Modern Rome offers a fascinating historical account of the city, the unification of Italy in 1870 and the rise of Fascism. This imprint is reflected in the city’s rapid urbanization, with the addition of new districts and monuments. To discover modern Rome, don’t miss the Trastevere district, the Piazza del Popolo and the Victor-Emmanuel II National Monument.

The Trastevere district

The Trastevere district is a popular and lively place where you can feel the charm of yesteryear thanks to its narrow cobbled streets, typical restaurants and relaxing squares. You’ll also discover medieval churches and Renaissance palaces. It’s a district as emblematic as it is unmissable!

Piazza del Popolo

Piazza del Popolo is another of the city’s main squares, built in the early 19th century. Originally, travelers from the north arrived in Rome via this square. One thing’s for sure, if you pass through it, you’ll find a magnificent welcome: adorned with magnificent fountains and sculptures, it also offers a magnificent panorama of the surrounding city!

Victor Emmanuel II National Monument

Finally, the Monumento Nazionale di Victor-Emmanuel II is an imposing monument commemorating the birth of Italy as a unified nation-state. Here you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city and a museum dedicated to the history of Italy. It’s one of the most fascinating places in Rome, so don’t miss out! Its immense dimensions and white marble will not leave you indifferent.

Contemporary Rome

Palazzo della Civiltà, Rome contemporaine

Shutterstock – EnricoAliberti ItalyPhoto

The contemporary part of the Italian capital is often overlooked, despite its dynamism and modernity. Indeed, Rome is also a major cultural center, hosting numerous events and festivals throughout the year. When you discover contemporary Rome, you’ll have the chance to visit a city in constant transformation and evolution! Among Rome’s most modern and exciting venues, you can explore the MAXXI, the EUR Quarter and the Testaccio district.


MAXXI, also known as the National Museum of 21st Century Art, is a must-see for all contemporary art lovers. The building, designed by architect Zaha Hadid and inaugurated in 2010, is a masterpiece in itself, but not only! The Italian foundation hosts internationally renowned exhibitions of modern and contemporary art.

Le Quartier EUR

The Quartier EUR, built in the 1930s under Mussolini’s regime, is a modern, elegant district. Its name recalls the 1942Universal Exhibition in Rome, which never took place because of the war. Today, the EUR district is a symbol of Italian Fascist architecture, and is home to many remarkable public and private buildings, including ministries and cultural centers.

The Testaccio district

Finally, if you’re looking for a popular meeting place for Rome’s locals, you won’t be disappointed by the Testaccio district. Far from the tourist crowds, here you’ll find a wide variety of local cuisine in its many restaurants. And don’t forget to visit the Testaccio market, one of the oldest in Rome!

By visiting these modern districts, you’ll have the opportunity to discover the city from a different angle, while appreciating Rome’s efforts to remain a city in constant evolution.

In the end, even if the expression « eternal city » dates back to the great works of Augustus, it is by constantly rising from its ashes that Rome has truly imposed its nickname. As you can see, Rome is a city that has stood the test of time without losing any of its splendor. From its glorious past to its bewitching present, every corner of the city tells a story worth discovering. So, are you ready to lose yourself in the cobbled streets of the Eternal City and relive its history?